Is it a good or a bad idea to learn a foreign language from the first grade?

@Porcospino (16425)
Denmark
April 8, 2012 3:01pm CST
In my country some children learn English from the first grade. English from the first grade is not compulsory, but some schools have chosen to start the English lessons very early. In the 1980's when I went to school we learned English from the 5th grade. Many people in my country think that English from the first grade is a good idea, but some people are against the idea. They think that you have to learn your mother tongue before you learn a foreign language. Children in the first grade can't read or write Danish yet, and people who are against the idea think that it is bad idea to learn English before you learn the alphabet. What do you think? Do you think that it is a bad thing to learn a foreign language before you learn to read in your own language or do you think that it is best to learn foreign languages when you are still very young? Why?
1 person likes this
22 responses
• Calgary, Alberta
8 Apr 12
In my country English is forced taught from Kinder garten. The government did it so we can have Job opportunities abroad. That caused this mindset "if you cant speak English you are dumb" That sounds cruel but it became a mindset in my country. bright side yes we got Job opportunities, American Call centers moved here and they were outsourcing people here. The bad side, I rarely see people who speaks "pure tagalog Language" They mix a bit of English on their conversations and others completely refuse to speak Tagalog,
1 person likes this
@Porcospino (16425)
• Denmark
8 Apr 12
Some Danes do the same thing when they speak or write. They mix Danish and English words all the time. One of friends does that a lot, and when I receive a text message from her, she writes some sentences in English and some sentences in Danish I speak both Danish and English, but I still find it confusing that she doesn't stick to one language. Some Danes use English words because they find it "cool", personally I prefer pure Danish or pure English. You learn English very early. I think it is positive thing that it gives you job opportunities, and it is important to speak English if we want to communicate with people from other countries. We wouldn't be having this conversation now if I only spoke Danish and you only spoke Tagalog
• Calgary, Alberta
8 Apr 12
we use to have Spanish in the curriculum, but they removed it before I was born. I wish they kept Spanish...I mean its a sexier language than English. well if I am a dad I want multilingual kids. I was pissed off with those Filipinos who grow up in the Philippines and refuses to speak Tagalog or any filipino language at least. I hate those self hating people. I dotn want my country to end like Scotland where only 58,652 people speaks Scottish out of millions. I dont want the language to die, There is nothing wrong with being multilingual but yeah people should love their language.I can see this happening to mu country in the next few decades.
1 person likes this
@allen0187 (32603)
• Philippines
8 Apr 12
@ captalbert, that is typical 'colonial mentality' among filipinos. sad but true! lol! i can see and understand the need and importance for filipinos to learn how to speak, write, and converse well in english as it is a common language around the world but to think that those who do not speak or write english well is 'dumb' is simply infuriating. people who think that way are clearly misinformed. a good balance of using one's native language and a foreign language or two is good enough. anything in excess will likely lead into some sort of trouble or inconvenience. happy mylotting capt!
1 person likes this
@allen0187 (32603)
• Philippines
8 Apr 12
hi porcospino. i think it makes a lot of sense if a child gets to learn a new language since they can incorporate the new language early on in their lives and they can become good at speaking this new language. i don't see any problem if a child learns a new language at school since the native language that they have is used in their daily life. my daughter speaks well using our native language and she speaks english well for her age. she also knows a couple of spanish words ans phrases. anyway, i'm sure as long as children get to use the language/languages that are taught to them they can readily adapt and learn these languages easily. cheers and happy mylotting!!!
@Porcospino (16425)
• Denmark
10 Apr 12
I think it is great that your daughter speaks your native language, English as well as some Spanish words. I think it is easier to learn new languages when you are young, and if I get any children I want them to learn foreign languages from an early age. I agree with the people who want the children to learn English from the first grade, I think it is a good idea to introduce foreign languages early. Some people are against the idea, because they think you can't learn a foreign language if you can't read or write your own language, but I wouldn't be worried about that.
@allen0187 (32603)
• Philippines
13 Apr 12
hello porcospino. yeah, i agree with you 100%. starting them young increases the chances of them really doing well in speaking and learning a foreign language. i think this is the same for all tasks when it involves children. the sooner that you teach it to them, the better chances that they master the task since they started doing it at a young age. anyway,i'm not taking my daughter to a formal school to learn english or spanish. we use english as much as possible at home and for spanish, i leave it up to dora, diego, and their friends to help my daughter out. i'm talking about the children's show 'dora the explorer' in the nickleodeon network. lol! my daughter loves the show so much that she suddenly spoke a couple of spanish words one day much to my surprise. anyway, given the chance perhaps i'll enroll my daughter in a spanish class when she gets older. another language that i her to learn is mandarin. i also want to learn it as well but i think its a longshot. hahahahahahahaha!!! anyway, here's to us grown ups learning more language!!! cheers and happy mylotting!!!
1 person likes this
@fannitia (2170)
• Bulgaria
8 Apr 12
Hi, Porcospino! I think that this is a very good idea. I began to learn French one year before beginning the school. We had an Institute for foreign languages where many kids were starting to learn at the age of 6 and this continues even now. Then, because my country was part of the former Soviet block, the Russian was included in the school programs starting from the 3th grade. Years ago I had to learn also English because it is a must now. But this is nothing compared to Finland, as I've heard. There little kids begin to learn more than one foreign language at early age. Specialists say that it's easier to learn a language when you are a kid and this doesn't harm the knowledge of your mother tongue. I'm a proof of this because we have a Cyrillic alphabet. I learned to write in my Bulgarian and in French with the Latin letters without problems. So follow the example of the Finnish is the best I think. Good night!
@Porcospino (16425)
• Denmark
8 Apr 12
I have heard that the educational system in Finland is very good, and I think that it is a good idea to teach the children foreign languages from an early age. Some people in my country are still "afraid" of the idea, but I think that it is useful for children to learn foreign languages early. It was interesting to read about your experience. You were able to learn both a new language and a new alphabet. The children in my country wouldn't have to learn a new alphabet if they learn English from the first grade, because the English and the Danish language both use the Latin alphabet, so I think that it would be less complicated than learning a new alphabet like you did.
@fannitia (2170)
• Bulgaria
11 Apr 12
In fact this is not complicated for the little kids themselves because their brains seem to have great capabilities. But many adults are afraid because they don't understand this.
1 person likes this
• Philippines
9 Apr 12
My mom and dad have been teaching me English since I was... hmm. A day old, I guess. Though it isn't our native language, it's a show of intelligence in our country and my parents thought it would be a great idea to give me a head start but that isn't uncommon here. A lot of parents talk to their kids in English. This is just me typing out my thoughts but I think it's a great idea. English is the most spoken language. Most books, research articles, etc are written in English making it a very handy tool to have in your knowledge base. If you plan on visiting a foreign country it would help to know English if you can't speak that country's language because there's bound to be someone near by who could understand you. I don't think English would hinder their learning of their native language because they're surrounded by it. People around them would be speaking Danish, their mom and dad would still converse in Danish. They live in a country that mostly speaks Danish. So where am I going with this? I mean: They cannot-not learn Danish as long as they live in Denmark(?), a country that has built its foundations on that language, even if it weren't taught in schools (not saying that it shouldn't). People should not forget about their culture but they should also be open to new things because this is an ever changing world and theres nothing we could do but adapt.
• Philippines
9 Apr 12
I totally agree with you, bud. 'rents started teaching me English every since I was young too and it has really helped me. but of course I haven't forgotten my native tongue. They don't teach it in school but we definitely know how to speak it.
@msdivkar (1903)
• India
9 Apr 12
Hi porcospino, It is the same situation in India too. During my times We had our mother tongue as medium of instruction in primary school and English in secondary school and further university studies but now a days the medium of instruction right from nursery level is English although the schools with mother tongue as medium of instruction up to secondary school level are available many opt for English as the medium. As far as I am concerned I feel the medium of instruction at primary level should be once own mother tongue and not any other foreign language. This is because a child can think and visualize better in once mother tongue than in foreign language. It also helps the child to understand once culture and heritage better. While we were well versed with our history and mythology, our children who learnt in English medium lack this knowledge. Children tend to adopt foreign culture in preference to its own which is not a good sign for the development of a country.
1 person likes this
@Porcospino (16425)
• Denmark
13 Apr 12
I didn't know that many schools in India use English as the medium of instruction. I think that it is important to learn English, but it is also important to learn our own mother tongue. Some Danish schools have introduced English from the first grade, and I think it is good thing to learn languages early, but it is also important to learn to read and write Danish, so I think that a combination of both languages would be best. I can see from your response that there has been some changes in the educational system since you were a student, and the same thing happened in my country. Today children learn things that we didn't learn when I was a student, but we also learned things that they don't learn today.
@ShepherdSpy (8562)
• Omagh, Northern Ireland
9 Apr 12
There's 2 ways to look at this idea..is the learning of the new language purely for educational and/or vocational reasons for later in life,or will the child be growing up as an immigrant in another country where the language they'll be learning won't be the language spoken at home by the Parents? Here in Northern Ireland,I know Parents who are working here, originally from Eastern European countries, who are making their home here and will have had at least one child born here. While the Child's mother language will be culturally important to them so as to remain in contact with extended family,Grandparents, and presumably going on family holidays,They'll need the language of their new home too..Young Children will pick up language much faster than their parents' Generation did or will at an adult stage of life and will pick up a local accent too.. So,if the learning of the language is a necessity,then it's important..if it's not,then it can have a lesser priority.
@Porcospino (16425)
• Denmark
13 Apr 12
In the past I worked in an international kindergarten in my country, and most of the children were bilingual. At home they learned their parents' language and in the kindergarten they learned Danish. Like you I think it is important to learn both languages. If the children don't learn their parents' language they won't be able to talk to grandparents, cousins etc when they visit their parents' country. On the other hand they also have to learn the language in the country where they live, so both languages are important.
@Theresaaiza (10454)
• Australia
9 Apr 12
Here in the Philippines, we learn English and our mother language, Filipino almost simultaneously, starting from Nursery even. The problem is that Philippines has hundreds of dialects. In my case, we speak Visayan, which is very different from Filipino. There is no subject Visayan in our curriculum so we are forced to learn the language through our daily interactions. We do have very deep words that modern-day people no longer use or understand and that's where the difficulty lies. Majority of us here, speak in a mixed way. Part Visayan, part English, part Filipino. I don't know where this all leads to. ANyway, in answer to your question, I believe it's good to start learning a language early, but there has to be a time of the day when appreciation for own language is reinforced.
1 person likes this
@Porcospino (16425)
• Denmark
13 Apr 12
That is a lot of dialects. In my country we also have dialects and sometimes it is hard to understand people from another part of the country, because they use words that don't exist in our own dialect. The children learn the dialects from their parents, in the schools we all learn a standard kind of Danish called "rigsdansk". What is it like in the Philippines, are the dialects completely different from eachother or do you understand some parts of the sentences when you talk to someone who speaks a different dialect?
@youless (90248)
• Guangzhou, China
8 Apr 12
Since English has played a main role here, so it is quite important to learn it when you are little. Since little children can learn the foreign language faster. If they can master it when they are little, at least they don't have to study hard for it when they grow up. I love China
1 person likes this
@Porcospino (16425)
• Denmark
11 Apr 12
I think that it good for children to learn languages early. Foreign languages are important today if we want to communicate with the rest of the world. In the past the children in my country didn't learn English at all, but today it is a compulsory subject, and I think that is a good thing. How old are the Chinese children when they start learning English?
@yahnee (1250)
• Philippines
8 Apr 12
Children are able to grasp languages easily more than adults do. It is better to start teaching children another language when they are younger like we do in my country. Schools also use the English medium of teaching from the first grades. English is our second language and the children who are taught at an early age become more proficient. We use our own language in daily conversation, so the children will learn it at the same they are learning another language.
1 person likes this
@Porcospino (16425)
• Denmark
11 Apr 12
That is true, it is easier for children to learn a new language, and I think that it is a good idea to start early. When I was a student very few children learned English from the first grade. Some children in private schools learned English from the first grade, but in the public schools the children didn't learn English till the 5th grade. I think that it would be a good idea to introduce English lessons from the first grade in every school, but that hasn't been decided yet. I learned English from the 5th grade, German from the 7th grade and French from the 9th grade, but if I get children I would like them to learn foreign languages earrly.
@SarahAlyx (181)
• United States
8 Apr 12
Its a good thing to start the children early. Because you never know when they are going to need it. I don't think it's a bad idea at all. I understand the concern that the chilren won't learn their mother toungue as well but if theyre parents speak the mother toungue then its something they will grow up with. I personally dont think as a parent I would worry.
@Porcospino (16425)
• Denmark
10 Apr 12
I wouldn't worry about it either. I think that children are able to learn both languages. Of course they have to learn their mother tongue, but I also think that it is important to learn foreign languages if we want to communicate with the rest of the world. I think that it would be best to learn both languages, and I think you are right, if the parents speak the local language the children are going to learn that language no matter what because they grow up with it.
@lifes97 (885)
• United Arab Emirates
8 Apr 12
hi there, i have tried many, of course i tried to learn from only near to learn different langauges and its good to learn different languages but the really issue is not to let the kids forge their real language everyone should not forget their own language its not nice or beauty to that, as each one should have other learnings but mother tongue is the best for sure, good lucks
1 person likes this
@Porcospino (16425)
• Denmark
9 Apr 12
You have a good point. I think that it is important to learn foreign languages like English, but it is also importart to learn our mother tongue. I am not against the idea of learning foreign languages from an early age, because I think that children are able to learn the local language as well as a foreign language, but we most not forget our mother tongue. I am very happy that I have learned to speak English, because it is very useful for me in so many ways for instanse when I travel or when I talk to people from other parts of the world, but I also love my own language.
@bunnybon7 (35524)
• Holiday, Florida
8 Apr 12
i think kids should learn both languages as soon as possible. i have a first grandchild thats half mexican. she learned both from even earlier. now she can speak both fluently at 30 yrs yet shes been speaking both since 4 yrs old and writing both by 3rd grade .
1 person likes this
@Porcospino (16425)
• Denmark
8 Apr 12
I agree with that. I also think that it is a good idea to learn both languages early. I think it is useful to speak more than one language like your grandchild. Some people in my country are against the idea, because they think that children in the first grade are too young to learn a foreign language. I don't agree with that. When I worked in an international kindergarten I saw children who were only 3 or 4 years old and they already spoke two languages (their parents' language and our local language) so I think it is possible to learn foreign languages when you are very young
@marianne87 (3526)
8 Apr 12
It is easier to learn languages when you are very young. English is our first language, but I started teaching my daughter to speak Spanish at the age of 2. My parents spend half the year in Spain and I felt it would be useful for her in the future. We spent a couple of weeks there when she was 3, and she listened to the locals speaking, and by the time we went home she was speaking a small amount of Spanish with a perfect accent.
1 person likes this
@Porcospino (16425)
• Denmark
8 Apr 12
I think that it is great that you started teaching your daughter Spanish that early. I used to work in an international kindergarten in my country. Many of the children didn't speak Danish in the beginning, because their parents were from other countries, but they learned Danish really fast. I think that it is a good thing to learn foreign languages when you are very young, it is easier that way. In my country English is the most important foreign language and I think the children should learn English when they are young, because without English they can't communicate with the rest of the world.
@kaypow (69)
• Canada
14 Apr 12
Hi, Porcospino, Living in Quebec, I was taught French as a second language from the moment I started school, and while I did not always like it, I understand the benefit that it has had for me. I am glad that I spent all of my elementary and secondary school years learning French, because it meant that I was able to take things very slowly and ensured that I had grasped each step before I moved on to the next one. Now, my only stumbling block in French is my own nerves--my spoken French is certainly enough to get me through a conversation, but I spend so much time thinking about saying things properly that I sometimes mess them up out of nervousness! My written French, however, is much better. I don't think parents should wait to teach their children a second language. I know that if I were to try to start learning French now, I would never attain the proficiency with it that I currently enjoy. For one thing, children simply have the time to learn a new language, while adults do not! Also, as many others have already mentioned, children grasp new languages much more easily than adults. Even better, studies have shown that learning more than one language can actually make a child more intelligent. That said, I do not, however, condone these parents who start showing their infants "Baby Einstein" videos, trying to teach them Mandarin and Italian from the moment they are old enough to hold their heads up on their own, hoping that these languages will give the children an edge in life. It does no good to teach a child a few words of a language and then move on to another. It is much more important to ensure that the child becomes fluent in one language before moving on to the next. Otherwise, what's the point? You can't have a conversation just by knowing the names of a few objects!
• Mexico
11 Apr 12
Of course it is ok, at that age, their brains are fully capable of storing and understanding all of the information presented. They can learn more than 3 language at a time actually! Without any problem to mix them out! Those raised in paralinguistic families are a clear of example of that. It must me noted though, that children should by no means tried to be taught through the same methods than adults. That's just the dumbest thing you can so! A good method, for example, is montessori's. Have a look on it and discover how amazing it is!
1 person likes this
@marguicha (90363)
• Chile
11 Apr 12
I would not think it´s a good idea to teach another language with grammar and all that, but it could help children if they were exposed to another language by listening to songs or even learning them.
1 person likes this
@megamatt (14331)
• United States
10 Apr 12
Well I would say that it might be a good idea. Such a thing was not offered when I was that young and when I attempted to learn a foreign language, it was an absolute fiasco. I think that it is easier to train yourself in something when you are younger. That is another reason why it is good to start reading as soon as possible, as it is a much steeper climb the older that you can get. It is a fascinating idea, but I can see why some people might have problems. Of course, I really do think that the younger that people start learning these things, the easier it is to grasp. Then again, grasping your first language might take prominence for other reason and if children are struggling to grasp that, I just can imagine how hard it is to grasp a second language.
1 person likes this
@catamari (127)
• Romania
10 Apr 12
Hello Porcospino. I like your question. Yes, my opinion is that is a very good idea to learn more languages from very early age. We like adults lost our abilities to listen to others like very young people. All the time we try to judge, to think about a language. Children can absorb a language. That is the faster way to learn a language. Knowing more than one language is a very good nowadays. I wish to be able to learn more languages. Finally, yes, I agree to teach English at very young age. For little children I think is better to have a very fun, easier English class, just audio, listening. I hate to study, to teach or to practice grammar, rules, so on. So, I believe for children will be great to, to speak, to listen to, without rules. Good luck!
@meozard22 (872)
• Philippines
10 Apr 12
for me it's a good idea because the earlier a child can learn, the more fluent he/she can be. Yes we should prioritize our mother language but it's not bad to learn other languages at the same time. Besides, it will be an advantage to a person to be fluent in many other language even aside from English, they can also communicate very well
1 person likes this
@aerous (13474)
• Philippines
9 Apr 12
Better to teach at the early age if you want your kid to speak foreign languages
1 person likes this